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Hospital chief doesn't mind being at bottom of inverted pyramid

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It’s not always easy being the only man in a house with a half-dozen women, but Scripps Green Hospital Chief Executive Robin Brown told California State University, San Marcos students that the experience has taught him a lot about communication and empathy.

Brown has been in the medical administration industry for 30 years, with the last nine spent at Scripps Green Hospital. He views leadership as an inverted pyramid where the few who are at what would normally be viewed as the “top” hold up the rest of the people within the company.

At Scripps Green, Brown holds themed “celebrations” with live entertainment for people who celebrate anniversaries with the company. During the event he and other executives act as waiters and serve the honored employees.

While explaining how he feels about the event, he paused for a moment because he was getting choked up.

“I get a little emotional about it,” he said to the room of 50 or so college students. “I’m underscoring the fact how important and how precious these people are.”

Brown explained he learned the importance of serving to lead from a Marine colonel he served with while in the military.

During mealtime, he would allow all the Marines and Sailors to get their “chow” before him. The colonel would start off as last in line, but as others finished their tasks, he would step back and allow them to go ahead of him.

“I think what that said to me was mission is everything, but if you’re going to be successful in leadership, you’re going to have to put your people first,” Brown said. “They’ll work hard as long as they know you have their best interests in mind.”

He thinks industry can learn something from the military in terms of how people are vetted through the system.

“There are more similarities than differences,” Brown said about industry compared to the military, but added there are some key differences.

He said many companies do not do enough to train their staff to promote from within and maintain that loyalty to a company.

“I think most companies do a very, very poor job of training people up who are hired, because if you look at where they recruit from for vice presidents and senior vice presidents many times they’ll go outside of the organization because they don’t have the underpinnings to promote from within. I think if that’s the primary form of recruitment, then that’s a flawed organization,” he explained.

He said the problem could be dealt with easiest by hiring the right people from the start.

The three key ingredients a person needs to be successful are integrity, a propensity to communicate and a strong orientation for results, he added.

“Those three ingredients are easier to find than they are to teach,” he said.

Video: Interview with Robin Brown of Scripps Green Hospital

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